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Hunt ban is ‘revenge for miners’

A SENIOR Labour MP has admitted that the hunting ban is the party's revenge for the way former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher treated the miners during the miners’ strike of 1984-85.

Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the Commons education select committee and a Tony Blair loyalist, said he was dismayed that some of his colleagues were using hunting in this way.

Mr Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, told Melissa Kite, Deputy Editor of The Telegraph: "I hated the way that Thatcher rolled over minority opinion like the miners. I never wanted us to be like that and I think people may come to feel that we are as insensitive to minorities that we disagree with in the way that Thatcher was seen. In the end people will feel rather scorned by a Government that will roll like a tank over a minority."

Mr Sheerman said that some New Labour MPs were well intentioned and believed foxhunting to be cruel, but others on the Left were less concerned about animals.

Mr Sheerman is the first to voice such views, but it is an open secret at Westminster that Left-wing Labour MPs, including Ronnie Campbell and Dennis Skinner, have been privately trumpeting the Hunting Bill as their way of "evening the score" for the defeat of the miners' strike of 1984-5.

Mr Sheerman said he had made himself "supremely unpopular in the party" for stating what he felt to be the true reasons behind the ban during a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party last week.

He said that the Hunting Bill was "hardly the issue to use the Parliament Act".

The MP, one of only three from Labour who voted against the ban, said he was also one of the few Labour members who had lived in the countryside and kept livestock. "I have seen what happens if you shoot a fox and it dies of gangrene," he said.

Meanwhile, in the Sunday Express, a pub landlord in a village that depends on hunting fort its livelihood declared that the Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael himself had confirmed ‘off the record’ that the Hunt Bill was Labour’s revenge on the Tories for the treatment of striking miners.

Peter Hendrie, 48, the landlord of the Exmoor White Horse Inn, in the village of Exford, Somerset, was quoted on a ‘shocking’ conversation he had with Alun Michael last year. Mr Hendrie said: "He [Mr Michael] said off the record that the ban was totally political and payback for what the Tories did to the miners."

Mr Michael angrily retorted to the newspaper: "This is a total invention, which I reject utterly. It’s outrageous that someone should lie in this way."